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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: rotational mechanics applied to fastpitch softball


Posted by: Bembeng] (soemodihardjo_25@yahoo.com) on Fri Feb 10 09:33:10 2006


> The only issue I can't seem to resolve with using rotational mechanics is accounting for the fact that this methodology encourages a slight uppercut swing. This seems fine in baseball where the pitch is always traveling downwards, but in fastpitch, with a rise ball, an uppercut swing seriously limits the ability to coincidentally time both the bat speed and swing plane with the plane of the pitch and its velocity. This is especially a big issue at an elite men's level where many pitchers are strong enough to throw low rise balls.
> > > > >
> > > > > Use a good quick rotational swing and match whatever you think the pitch plane actually is. Just be sure and use video to check yourself.
> > > > >
> > > > > Exactly... and this can be done by keeping your hands back at the armpit level well into shoulder rotation. then the hands lower but not as much on the rise and the bathead will be on plane as the front elbow remains lower to accomplish this. Rich
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> > >
> > > I'm new to this forum, though I find great value here, and own Jack's tape (working on THT w/ my daughter last night, in fact). Although my "roots" are in BB, my youngest, being female, plays JO FP. She loves it, has enjoyed some success as a hitter, and I am increasingly gravitating towards the game. It is a great showcase for outstanding female athletes, and I am really enjoying my involvement. I am, however, on a bit of a crusade on the subject of JO FP hitting (or the lack thereof).
> > >
> > >
> > > The rise is indeed prevalent in Men's FP. In the JO Girls' game, you certainly see the pitch, but less often, and it obviously rises far less. Typically, the pitch starts near the top of the strike zone, and then rises out of the zone. This phenomenon is accentuated by the fact that the typically called ASA strike zone is lower than the rulebook defined strike zone (armpits). In short, the pitch is thrown for a strike a pretty small percentage of the time. And it is a classic risk/reward pitch - miss a foot low, and I like the batter's chances to hit it very hard. Finally, IMO, if thrown consistently at the top of the zone, it's going to be a pretty long day for the batters irrespective of hitting mechanics.
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> > > My observation is that about 75-80% of the pitches in JO FP are near the knees. It seems to me most prudent to utilize hitting mechanics that optimize the swing towards the vast majority of pitches the batter will see, while still "allowing" a reasonable adjustment for less common pitches.
> > >
> > >
> > > I truly think the question for hitting mechanics in JO FP isn't "how can we best hit the riser?" The question should be, "how can the knee-high pitch be hit hard, and preferably not on the ground?" (It is probably important to note that although the ASA rule book defines the lower edge of the strike zone as top of the knees, pitches 6-8" lower than that are frequently called strikes.)
> > >
> > >
> > > The pitch at the knees (in FP) is always moving down as it passes through the hitting zone. While the trajectory angle is not as steep as in baseball, it is nonetheless still down. The pitcher releases the ball at a point above her knees, w/ a slight upward trajectory (w/out an upward trajectory to the pitch, the ball would never reach the plate - gravity will do what it does.) With that release point and trajectory, if the ball ends up anywhere near the knees, it has to be moving down through the hitting zone. People argue forever about "upspin" and "downspin," etc. Physics is physics, and curvature of the earth doesn't apply to a flight of 40 feet. The ball is moving down.
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> > >
> > >
> > > I hope to make the following observations w/out reopening the linear/rotational debate (not opposed to the debate, just want to jump to a couple of conclusions):
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> > >
> > > 1) The swing most commonly taught in JO FP has a downward plane, which when applied to a pitch moving down, will most often reault in a ground ball. Just as in BB, ground balls in FP are hits a small percentage of the time. Getting "on plane" and hitting line drives has the same positive result as in BB. (I'll make one "rotational" comment - hitting line drives gap-to-gap in FP has an enhanced reward, as the LF and RF generally play closer to the line.)
> > >
> > >
> > > 2) Female participants (JO FP) have less upper body strength than their male counterparts; the delta is considerably more narrow when comparing lower body strength between the two genders.
> > >
> > >
> > > 3) The swing most commonly taught in JO FP does not maximize utilization of the lower body. Hips open to 90 degrees at contact as is the norm in BB is anathema to most FP hitting instructors (not to mention shoulders open 70-110 degrees). Disconnection is not only an unfortunate by-product of the most commonly taught swing, it is the inevitable (even desired) outcome.
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> > >
> > >
> > > IMO, the swing mechanics common to JO FP are wildly inappropriate for the game conditions or physical characteristics of the participants.
> > > I see two primary reasons for this:
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> > >
> > > 1) The game is rooted in a tradition of pitching so dominant that any contact was a victory, however pyrrhic. This kind of pitching dominance is far less common in today's game. In 2003, the top hitters in NCAA FP enjoyed stats comparable (or exceeding) the top hitters in NCAA BB:
> > >
> > > Lovie Jung, Sr, Arizona (plays for Mike Candrea): 63 games. BA of .461. 25 HR. 79 RBI. A slugging % of 1.022! (Top slug in D1 BB was Rickie Weeks, Southern U. - .933).
> > >
> > > Kristin Rivera, So, UW: 64 games. BA of .395. 25 HR. 71 RBI. A slugging % of .859.
> > >
> > > Oli Keohohou, Jr, BYU: 53 games. A BA of .426. 20 HR. 47 RBI. A slugging % of 1.016.
> > >
> > > Whatever the relative challenges (BB to FP), it is possible for hitters in FP to overcome those challenges, and hit for average as well as power.
> > >
> > >
> > > 2) The often stated, readily acceptable goal in FP is "make contact, put the ball in play." Seriously, this is viewed as an acceptable outcome. In this, FP differs dramatically from BB. A conversation I have never heard on Saturday morning at a (Travel) Youth BB field:
> > >
> > > "My son is hitting well."
> > >
> > > "Your son is batting .178"
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> > > "Yeah, but he puts the ball in play a lot."
> > >
> > > I'll stop short of labeling this as sexism or even pejorative gender bias, but in truth, a lower standard of acceptability is applied to hitters in JO FP than in Travel BB. I think this does a disservice to some rather great athletes, and I think it is an impediment to growth of the game. The good news is that it is slowly changing. Most - not all - FP coaches are at least considering how to get their hitters "turning left," rather than pounding the ball into the ground. The pace of change is glacial, and instruction and methodology at the youth level lag far behind that provided to the best hitters in the world. But progress is being made.
> > >
> > > Scott
> > >
> > > Hey Scott,
> > Nice essay... i enjoyed reading it and the statistics about the NCAA girls is facinating. true the state of hitting is sad in fastpitch, but let's look at the bright side, our daughters will stand out like a sore thumb because we have taught them how to swing in the most efficient way. they will be productive and hopefully may get a free ride at some college.
> > Do you know if the girls that you mentioned above swing an end loaded bat? if so, what is the make and weight? any idea what kind of batspeed these girls reach at that level?
> > Nice to have you post here. put it in your "my favorites" and come back often... Happy New Year! Rich


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